A WOMAN from Oxford is taking on a 30km cycle challenge to fundraise for her charity, African Hospital Libraries.

Dr Claire Blacklock, co-founder and trustee of African Hospital Libraries, will be cycling between the Oxford NHS hospitals and university health libraries next month.

She aims to raise sponsorship funds for the charity which provides medical books for hospitals in Africa, as well as raise awareness of the inequalities in accessing up to date and relevant health information for the global health workforce.

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Dr Blacklock said: “I’m not a pro at cycling but I’ve been training with my two-year-old daughter sat in the back and I’m excited for the challenge."

The doctor started supplying books at Makeni Government Hospital in Sierra Leone when she was volunteering with her husband.

Oxford Mail:

While in Makeni, they noticed that doctors, nurses and other health professionals did not have reference material and that it had an effect on the quality of care provided.

The couple started a small library in the hospital with relevant medical books which were as up to date as possible and the hospital has now been using the library for six years.

Dr Blacklock said: “Every hospital in the UK has a library with the latest books. Medicine changes and no one can remember everything, so libraries are an important facility to have in hospitals.

“We take this for granted but health professionals in Sierra Leone don’t have access to up to date health information and it’s a real injustice to the global health workforce."

Sponsorship money raised from Dr Blacklock’s cycle challenge will go towards building a resource centre at the hospital which will not only have books but space for people to study, for groups to collaborate together and eventually have internet access.

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African Hospital Libraries has had good support in the past including receiving five British Medical Association Information Fund book grants and a partnership agreement with Book Aid International.

Books have been donated to the charity from Oxford University Press as well as Health Books International.

Last week, 200kg of books were donated from medical students and Oxford Brookes University libraries.

Dr Blacklock is passionate about raising awareness of the lack of access to the latest health books in less developed countries. She wants to advocate hospital libraries as part of the healthcare system.

She said: “We want to improve the service which we hope will become a symbol of education and improve innovation and patient care in hospitals in Sierra Leone.

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“We’re really grateful for the support so far. If anyone has found a book which has changed their life, you can give others the same opportunity.”

Dr Blacklock will be doing the challenge on May 24 at 9am, setting off from the John Radcliffe Hospital alongside library manager at Makeni Government Hospital, Fatmata M Kamara.

Ms Kamara will be travelling by motorbike taxi to all the healthcare training institutions in Makeni on the same day.